KOLKATA: Visitors will not be allowed inside the centuries-old Shobhabazar Chhoto Rajbari in north Kolkata to witness its famed Durga Puja celebrations this year due to the COVID-19 situation, an organiser said on Tuesday.
The decision is unprecedented in the 231 years of the 'Chhoto Taraf' Durga Puja celebrated in the mansion, in-charge of the puja, Alok Krishna Deb, told reporters.
"Family members will be issued identity cards and security guards with thermal guns will be posted at the 'Singha Duar' (main entrance) of the mansion," the seventh generation descendant of Raja Naba Krisha Deb, who had started the puja, said.
Locals and tourists alike throng the mansion during the festivities to witness the traditional celebration of Durga Puja by the descendants of Raja Naba Krishna Deb's biological son Raj Krishna Deb.
'Dhakis' (drummers) will also be absent during the festivities and recorded music will be played.
The drummers, who have been associated with the family for generations, will, however, receive their wages, Deb said.
Unlike previous years, 'prasad' will be distributed only among family members.
The usual pomp and show during the immersion of the idols will also be done away with and procession will not be brought out, he said.
Media outlets that cover the 'Chhoto Taraf' Durga Puja 24/7 will have restricted entry to the mansion and will be allotted specific time slots, another member of the family said.
The older Shobhabazar Rajbari, located opposite to the Chhoto Rajbari, hosts the 'Boro Taraf' Durga Puja started in 1757 by Raja Naba Krishna Deb after Lord Robert Clive defeated Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah at the Battle of Plassey.
The 'Boro Taraf' Durga Puja organisers, descendants of Raja Naba Krishna Deb's adopted son Gopi Mohun Deb, are yet to come out with restrictions for the festivities.